Spring festivities come near downtown Corvallis to support sustainable gardening


Jiratana Tungkawachara

Executive Director of Corvallis’ Arts Center Cynthia Spencer-Hadlock (she/her) poses with wooden birdhouses on April 21 at the Corvallis Arts Center. These wooden birdhouses were donated by local woodworkers and will be put on sale at the 2023 Spring Garden Festival.

David Li, News Contributor

Oregon State University’s Spring Family Weekend is coming up, but the OSU campus isn’t the only part of town celebrating.

In downtown Corvallis, the Arts Center Plaza is also set to be filled with festivities — color, music, and the occasional scent of food — along with people filling their car trunks with plants.

According to Executive Director of the Corvallis Arts Center, Cynthia Spencer-Hadlock, the event has always occurred on the same weekend as Oregon State University’s Mom’s Day Weekend — now Spring Family Weekend — as a way to pair with the event on campus.

“Over the years, we’ve seen a lot of moms and kids at OSU come through,” Spencer-Hadlock said. “So it’s important for us to be involved just because it (means) being part of the community.”

During the Spring Garden Festival, vendors will be in booths selling plants, arts and crafts and edible goods. It aims to promote community building and sustainable practices in gardening and landscape, according to Serena Kapuler, festival coordinator.

Taking place on May 7, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m the festival will be open and free to the public, and booths will be open for the entire event. 

“One of the good things the garden festival has always had is that a number of artists who bring their work to sell,” Spencer-Hadlock said. “It’s just fun to be part of a community event where it’s pretty low key.”

This year, the event will have additional new vendors, including a local farm that will be bringing a few friendly animals to create a mini petting zoo, according to Kapuler.

Performances from local entertainers and musicians will be located across from Wild Yeast Bakery from 11:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.

These performers include:

  • Captain Hezekiah
  • Cirque Valise
  • Kjersten Hallin
  • Marilyn Jordan
  • Gypsy Butterfly
  • Melanie Reid

According to Kapuler, Wild Yeast Bakery, Whole Flower Farms, Go Giddy Pops, Trempler Family Farms, Found Foraged Farmed and Conjured Condiments will be offering edible goods, including vegan and gluten free foods from Whole Flower Farms.

The festival was started by the Madison Avenue Task Force to revitalize downtown in the spring season, according to Kapuler. They organized it for 30 years until 2016 as a festival that highlights gardening, community building, and artists.

“After a small committee of community members rallied to save the festival, I took over leadership,” Kapuler said. “I joined because I believe it is a special event to continue having in Corvallis.”

The festival has always been popular in the community, according to Kapuler, as a time for shops to get exposure to the community and for people to connect.

“Central Park and Art Center Plaza is kind of our community’s gathering place downtown as much as anyplace else in town, and so to have a place where people can come and kind of see each other, after the long winter is really a lot of fun,” Spencer-Hadlock said.

The festival is cosponsored by the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition, Corvallis Parks and Recreation, Corvallis-Albany Farmers’ Market, and The Arts Center.

“We really like to be center to all kinds of creative pursuits, and gardening to me is definitely that … because it’s a lot about getting colors and species and arranging things in your garden to make it look nice and pleasing,” Spencer-Hadlock said. “So it seems like a good fit for us to be involved.”

The Corvallis Arts Center is located between 7th and 8th street on Madison Ave. For more information visit their facebook page.

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